No One Cared Who I Was Until I Put on the Mask

TAGS: free of judgement, raw power, Freud, the id, wearing a mask, Slipknot, Corey Taylor, external restraint, the deathlift, Marshall Johnson


I came across a video the other day that I think I have watched a couple hundred times since. It was creepy how much it spoke to me. At a time when I was trying to find a way to let myself break through the external restraints, I come across a video that called out to me.

The Deathlift

The deathlift is primitive, visceral, therapeutic, and violent. It's everything that keeps the monsters content and the soul at rest. As long as I have been a powerlifter, I have been able to tap into that internal source of energy only a handful of times at most. Most times in life and in training I feel spiritually hunched over, guarded, or braced — constantly waiting for the eyes of judgment.

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Why are you doing it like that? Why do you look like that? Why did you wear that? Why did you talk to the bar?

I made a connection the other day while watching the video below about why the members of Slipknot wear their masks. Corey Taylor talks about it and says his mask is a physical representation of the person inside that never had a voice. The mask gives that person a voice.

"This thing has no limits whatsoever."
—Shawn Crahan.

I made huge connections with Taylor speaking about the person on the outside and how that face comes with rules, society, being civilized, and being restrained by social norms. I can compare it to a prison outside of your body; the person inside is forced to hide because it is an old, primitive, animalistic force that has been diluted by centuries of human evolution. This force inside made me think of Sigmund Freud's Id.

The Id

The id is the primitive and instinctive component of personality. It consists of all the inherited (i.e. biological) components of personality present at birth, including the sex (life) instinct — Eros (which contains the libido), and the aggressive (death) instinct — Thanatos. The id is the impulsive (and unconscious) part of our psyche which responds directly and immediately to the instincts.

The personality of the newborn child is all id and only later does it develop an ego and super-ego.

The id remains infantile in it's function throughout a persons life, and does not change with time or experience, as it is not in touch with the external world. The id is not affected by reality, logic or the everyday world, as it operates within the unconscious part of the mind.

The id operates on the pleasure principle (Freud, 1920), which is the idea that every wishful impulse should be satisfied immediately, regardless of the consequences. When the id achieves its demands we experience pleasure, when it is denied we experience ‘unpleasure’ or tension.

The id engages in primary process thinking, which is primitive, illogical, irrational, and fantasy oriented. This form of process thinking has no comprehension of objective reality, and is selfish and wishful in nature.


deadlift in vegas marshall

When I think of the times I was able to tap into that raw, primitive power, one word comes to mind: catharsis.

Catharsis: The purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.


After I watched this video about Slipknot and their masks, I started to connect the dots and I presented myself with a new approach to tapping into that power while deadlifting, creating a cathartic experience every time I deadlifted. The thought of this approach scares the shit out of me because I know that it will work 100% of the time but I don't think I am courageous enough to use it. It is something I've never seen anyone try before. It is so far outside social norms that it would take a very strong person to do it.

There has been a constant to every time I have been able to unearth the internal force buried below the surface. The constant was the fact that my head and face were covered. I would wear a hoodie with earbuds in. I would pull the hoodie over my face and hold it in my teeth. I was in complete darkness and I was unable to hear anything outside my own head. I was completely void of everything and everyone around me. It was like I was invisible.

With a complete lack of inhibition, I was able to call upon whatever I needed from the dark recesses of my mind. I could pace back and forth, I could stomp, I could bark, cry, scream, spit, jump, or flail my arms. These are the times when my deadlift was the most lethal it has ever been.

Watching this video inspired a thought: what if I wore a mask while I trained deathlift? What if I wore something that made me completely oblivious to everyone and everything around me? What if I numbed any worry of any reactions to my pre-lift ritual? My potential would be limitless.


Am I the kind of person that is strong enough to approach something like this? I don't know that I am. The criticism from the people around me alone sends waves of dread over me. I know right now that no one would understand unless I explained it to them. The downside is that I don't want to explain it to them. I just want to do what I want to do. To someone on the outside looking in, it would appear like a massive cry for help if I started showing up to the gym with a homemade mask that was ripped apart and sewn back together, if I didn't speak a word to anyone, and just lashed out at the bar for two hours without restriction, without limits, or fear of social retribution. Hell, even I would think I was crazy if I saw that.

So I'm left with the dilemma: Do I coast using 75% of my potential while training and staying safe and free of criticism? Or do I take the steps necessary to let the animal off the leash and deal with all the bullshit that comes with defying social norms? Only time will tell. To be honest, that thought of designing my own mask to represent the person inside me excites me. The thought of deathlifting with untapped, limitless aggression excites me. The thought of realizing my full potential excites me. The thought of being myself with total disregard of external resistance excites me. Can I take that step?

*Title inspired by Bane's line from The Dark Knight Rises. 


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